Representatives of border cities are usually very keen to show respect and admiration for their their neighbours, and are typically eager to showcase any joint projects they might have with them. But intra-border co-operation tends to revolve around culture and infrastructure, and rarely extends to investment promotion.
No wonder, given that investment promotion is a highly competitive game in which each location tries to lure investors with its competitive advantages and uses its neighbours as benchmarks for its own performance. That is not to say that there are not some locations bucking this trend, and joining forces either on a permanent or ad-hoc basis to boost their pro-FDI efforts.
The German city of Frankfurt (Oder) and the Polish city of Slubice are two such locations. Situated on the German-Polish border, the two cities are connected by a bridge and, since 1992, by their investment promotion efforts. The two can be considered trailblazers in bi-national investment promotion after they jointly established the World Trade Centre Frankfurt (Oder)-Slubice, a non-profit organisation aimed at driving investment into the region. This was followed in 2010 by the creation of the Frankfurt-Slubice Co-operation Centre, a task force charged with promoting inward FDI and economic development in both cities.
“In our agency, Polish employees work together with German ones on a daily basis. For example, we have recently hired a Polish event manager,” says Markus Kappes, managing director of both entities.
The fact that wages in Poland are considerably lower than in Germany is not an obstacle in joint investment promotion, according to Dr Martin Wilke, the mayor of Frankfurt (Oder). “Our cities combine the advantages of both sides and investors can decide for themselves on which side they want to conduct their business activity.”
The advantages of joint investment promotion are numerous, according to the mayor. “The fact that the names of both cities are included in the name and logo of the organisation means that we cannot really talk about one city without mentioning another. It is important, for example, when we are abroad and one of us is not present at an event,” he says.
The Danish capital of Copenhagen and its Swedish neighbour Malmo are similarly connected, by both a bridge and their investment promotion efforts. Since 1995, the two cities have been hosting a joint stand at Mipim, a major European real estate show organised annually in Cannes.
'Together we can shout louder' reads the slogan on the Copenhagen/Malmo website prepared for Mipim. Given the fact that both cities have a similar offering for investors, teaming up makes sense, as both cities can concentrate on effectively targeting investors instead of competing with each other.
“We are very interconnected. Copenhagen and Malmo are twin cities. We do compete with each other, but on a friendly basis,” says Frank Jensen, mayor of Copenhagen.
Despite long and effective collaboration at Mipim, the two cities do not appear to have any plans to broaden their investment promotion collaboration. When asked by fDi whether Copenhagen and Malmo might create a joint investment promotion agency, Mr Jensen says that it is “an interesting idea worth considering".